Global energy producer EDL has won the 2019 Asia Power Awards’ Environmental Upgrade of the Year in recognition of its successful Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project.
EDL CEO James Harman said it was an honour to be recognised for the project’s demonstrated success in combining Coober Pedy’s original diesel power station with 4MW wind and 1MW solar generation, a 1MW/500kWh battery and other integration technologies to seamlessly transition the remote mining town from 100% diesel to up to 100% renewables.
“The Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project sets a global benchmark for renewables in off-grid, remote communities and has already provided invaluable learnings for other hybrid renewable projects across the country.
“This project highlights EDL’s role in supporting Australia’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Since the upgrade to hybrid renewable technology in July 2017 with the support of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the power station has been operating more reliably than the original diesel generation-only configuration.
From October 2018, the project has been supplying an average of more than 70% of the town’s power through renewable energy—giving Coober Pedy more reliable electricity supply at world-leading renewable energy penetration rates.
A spokesperson for the South Australian Department for Energy and Mining said today, “The Department for Energy and Mining commends EDL on their success at the Asia Power awards for the Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable project.”
“The project demonstrates how we can achieve higher utilisation of renewable energy whilst improving the quality of the power system, and will be valuable in informing future developments for network operators.”
EDL believes that the Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project is setting global benchmarks for consistently high levels of renewable energy penetration to a remote islanded micro-grid of mega-watt scale.
EDL is not aware of any other islanded hybrid renewable project supplying a remote micro-grid that achieves the high levels of penetration that the Coober Pedy project has delivered over the last two years of operation. Approximately 75% of electricity supplied to the town to date has been renewable; more than 50% of the time the town has been supplied with 100% renewable power. To date, the longest uninterrupted period of 100% renewable energy supply is 93 hours.
Local member for Giles Eddie Hughes told the Coober Pedy Regional Times, “The award is well deserved recognition for an innovative project. It shows what can be done in Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy is one of the few places in the world that runs on 70% renewable energy.”
“Grid parity pricing remains essential for Coober Pedy and given the climatic conditions more needs to be to address energy costs,” said Mr. Hughes.
• Combining 4MW wind generation, 1MW solar generation, a 1MW/500kWh battery and other integration technologies with the existing diesel power station enables a seamless transition from 100% diesel to up to 100% renewables for the remote mining town of Coober Pedy.
• By October 2018, the project was supplying an average of more than 70% of the town’s power through renewable energy—giving Coober Pedy more reliable electricity supply at world-leading renewable energy penetration rates.
• Collaboration between EDL, the District Council of Coober Pedy, the local community and the South Australian Government and support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) was integral to the project’s success.
• The project won the energy sector’s award in Excellence in Innovation: Productivity Improvement at the South Australian Premier’s 2018 Awards in Energy & Mining.
Historically, the remote South Australian mining town of Coober Pedy has relied on diesel-fired generators for its electricity supply. From 2004, EDL supplied that electricity from a 3.8MW diesel-fired power station. Electricity demand in Coober Pedy averages 1.4MW and EDL has a peak contractual demand of 3.4MW.
The Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project came online in July 2017—combining 4MW wind generation, 1MW solar generation, a 1MW/500kWh battery and other technologies fully integrated with the diesel power station.
Many remote Australian communities are not connected to the power grid and rely on diesel generation for their electricity.
Diesel generation is expensive to run as transporting fuels to remote locations is costly, can be dangerous and dependent on weather conditions. Further, the use of diesel, a fossil fuel, results in the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Remote communities’ reliance on diesel subjects them to the volatility of fuel prices. For the District Council of Coober Pedy, this volatility made accurate budgeting difficult.
For an off-grid community like Coober Pedy that enjoys high levels of sunshine and wind, renewable energy has unique advantages over fossil fuels.
In 2013, EDL began investigating the potential to integrate renewable energy into Coober Pedy’s existing diesel-fired power station to reduce the town’s reliance on diesel. We worked with the District Council of Coober Pedy and the South Australian Government from 2013 and undertook a series of community workshops prior to project commitment and during construction and operation. With the support of both Council and the state government, EDL successfully secured Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) funding for the project.
The next-generation Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project was developed to provide distributed energy—both off-grid and grid connected energy—to reduce the use of diesel and therefore the community’s exposure to fuel price volatility and carbon emissions, while still continuing to meet the community’s energy needs.
More reliable energy supply
System modelling predicted that 50% of the time, the town would be supplied with 100% renewable power (using zero diesel) with an average of approximately 70%. The project has outperformed this estimate, achieving 100% renewable 51% of the time with an average of 73.5% to date. This means that 73.5% of the diesel fuel supply to the site has now been replaced by renewable energy sources.
Power quality and reliability has also improved with this hybrid renewable model, with fewer supply outages from generation issues as shown in the table below.
The site record for 100% renewable energy supply was 93 continuous hours in August 2019.
Innovation in technology
The project’s system is innovative in the way the components interact to maintain power quality and reliability. The system is extremely resilient and can continue to operate with some components out of service.
Coober Pedy’s geographical location is ideal to balance solar and wind generation, and the enabling technologies that EDL has put in place (resistor, short-term storage and fast start diesel generators) have significantly reduced diesel consumption.
Coober Pedy Power Station real-time dashboard is another significant project innovation, keeping residents and the wider public informed on how the combination of technologies are operating at any one time to power the town.
Stabilising the cost of electricity
The project demonstrates that renewable energy can provide high levels of stability and penetration without compromising power quality and reliability at a remote site where power connectivity is critical.
The project provides a building block for future deployment. Learnings from the project will enable the renewable configuration to be fine-tuned to reduce cost and improve performance in future distributed renewable energy solutions.
The project also provides a solid platform to further increase renewable penetration at Coober Pedy, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing the town’s energy sustainability, which could be a blueprint for other remote communities.
EDL is also sharing the learnings from the success of the project via the ARENA Knowledge Sharing Program, and direct engagement with customers and stakeholders.
EDL’s COOBER PEDY HYBRID RENEWABLE PROJECT SETS GLOBAL BENCHMARKS
CONGRATULATIONS to EDL, owners and operators of the Coober Pedy Renewable Project, that provides electricity to the iconic, remote mining town of Coober Pedy in South Australia winner at 2019 Asia Power Awards
Supported by the Australian renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), the Coober Pedy Hybrid Renewable Project combines 4MW wind generation, 1MW solar generation, a 1MW’500kWhr battery with other technologies integrating these with the diesel power station.
This hybrid project has delivered lower cost and more stable electricity for this community at world leading reneweable energy penetration rates. To the end of 2018, the longest continuous period the project has operated on 100% renewables is 81 hours, and in 2019 is currently 93 hours
This project has set a global benchmark for renewables in MW scale isolated grids
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